Being an integral part of EOSC, CatRIS consortium participated in the flagship event organized by EOSCSecretariat on November 26-29, 2019 in Budapest.
Launched in 2016, the European Open Science Cloud aims to provide European science, industry and public authorities with world-class data infrastructure to store and manage data, high-speed connectivity to transport data, and powerful high-performance computers to process them.
The purpose of the meeting in Budapest was to provide answers to several important questions about EOSC:
· Is EOSC really contributing to the grand societal challenges addressed by science?
· Are the links between data and HPC initiatives becoming stronger and stronger?
· What are the business models and governance regulating EOSC?
· Who will benefit from EOSC? Is it just for researchers?
· Do enterprise players see a role for themselves in EOSC and how?
To ensure sustainability of EOSC, it is essential to set the appropriate legal and financial basis for EOSC. The legal status of EOSC was discussed during the session led by the Sustainability working group of EOSC. The group started working in July 2019 and most of their work on defining the legal status and finding sustainability models will be done in 2020. The approach that is being considered is to proceed from the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of EOSC targeting publicly funded research to fully-fledged EOSC digital marketplaces targeting both publicly funded research as well as the industry. The eventual transition from EOSC Exchange to EOSC Market is still under development and it will be explored during the coming months.
Currently, three models for Partnership are being discussed: co-funded, institutional and co-programmed. EOSC is under discussion to become a Strategic European Partnership. Two candidate legal entities are being evaluated: Belgian AISBL or Dutch Vereniging.
The choice of legal vehicle will be tied to the funding model. Financing options for EOSC may involve a combination of sources at the national level, European Strategic Partnership, and visible fees. Although some researchers were resistant to the idea to charge anyone any sort of fees, putting EOSC on the sustainable track will require some sort of revenue, e.g., registration charge paid by service provider per service plus transaction charge paid by service provider based on total volume of utilisation.
EOSC still faces considerable challenges in finding a suitable business model because: 1) EOSC hasn’t yet specified meaningful services, 2) no cost model exists for EOSC implementation and maintenance.
Three business models were presented in Budapest:
· Voucher access model
· Sponsored use (EOSC supports matchmaking but has no contractual role)
· Lead buyer/ demand aggregator
EOSC Hub project presented their experimentation with the voucher access model (OCRE project, Open Clouds for Research Environments)and shared suggestions and lessons learnt from testing this model:
· Simplify user interface
· Cost calculators
· Compatibility with DMP
· Clear solutions for data repatriation and data storage
In addition to clarifying several important questions, the symposium has identified a set of new issues. Although EOSC aims to put users at the center of EOSC, the identification of these users is not yet clear. Are they researchers? Are they RIs managers? There was considerable disagreement regarding this issue. Also, it seems that very few universities are aware of EOSC and certaintly more needs to be done to engage with them.
Together with other EOSC projects, CatRIS will continue to strive to answer these questions in the coming year.